Eternal Mementos of Transience – Safeguarding Values of Significant Historic Cemeteries
Cemeteries are the resting place of the deceased and as such are regarded primarily as places for remembering the lost loved ones and long gone forebears. Cemeteries, however, serve not just remembrance, they are also invaluable historical resources. Historic cemeteries are themselves the history carved in stone since they record valuable information on the social, cultural, ethnic and religious diversity of a community, as well as on its former eminent and ordinary members. They are excellent tools for strengthening the national and local identity of a community.
16 – 17 May 2014
5 January 2014 (topic, draft title should be indicated)
Deadline for abstracts:
30 January 2014
Teleki László Foundation
(with a vast experience on organising events on the preservation of cultural heritage)
Mrs. Ildikó Deák
Speakers’ travel, accommodation and subsistence expenses will be covered by the organisers!
Significant historic cemeteries store an impressive collection of tombs, gravestones, burial vaults, sarcophagi, mausoleums, built structures and statuary, which tell vibrant stories of bygone eras. Over the course of centuries, many cemeteries have grown into beautiful wooded gardens and turned into open-air museums of outstanding works of art, providing a broad overview of the artistic styles prevailing in different times. It is the fundamental responsibility of all time managers to attend to these burial grounds with the utmost care, to retain their quiet dignity, and to safeguard the heritage values preserved there, so that they can be passed on to the future generations in the best possible way.
This, however, is not an easy task. The preservation of significant historic cemeteries poses great challenges to the present day managers, who are faced with a wide range of problems. The older and more prestigious a cemetery is the more fashionable it is for new burials. Nevertheless, the grounds of historic cemeteries are limited, thus they cannot satisfy the ever growing demand for new graves.
There always emerge questions, which need to be addressed by the management of a cemetery like: How far they can go in opening up and cramming in new graves? What, how and by whom should be maintained? Whose responsibility it is to look after the graves of eminent personalities or gravestones, burial vaults, mausoleums, statuary with historic value, which do not have living descendants? How to prevent vandalism? How to raise awareness upon the significance of these grounds? How to reach out to the broader public? How to involve local citizens and civilian organisations in the protection of these values? How to encourage research activities?
The maintenance of the historic aspect of the more than 400 years old Central (Házsongárd) Cemetery in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, the resting place of the most prominent personalities of the centuries-long social, cultural, historic, religious past of Transylvania, as well as the protection of its hundreds of burial monuments with historical and heritage value raises similar questions.
For this reason, we are organising a two-day international symposium and are inviting experts from other significant historic countries from Europe to debate the most important issues affecting significant historic cemeteries, hold presentations, share their best practices and exchange experiences in order that viable recommendations can be made also regarding the specific concerns at the Házsongárd Cemetery.
We are soliciting presentations and best practices in the following topics:
1. Importance of significant historic cemeteries
2. Role of significant historic cemeteries in building and strengthening national and local identity
3. Cultural heritage values in historic cemeteries – many centuries-old graves, graves of prominent personalities, statuary and architectural works of art – their protection
4. Managing significant historic cemeteries – duties, responsibilities, challenges and tools in preserving the values
5. What, how to preserve
6. Financial resources, raising funds
7. New burials in already crowded cemeteries?
8. Reaching out to local citizens - awareness raising
9. Role of citizens and civilian organisations in preserving the heritage values in significant historic cemeteries
10. Significant historic cemeteries as tourism destinations: cemetery routes, guided tours
11. Historic cemetery records, databases, research activities